Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Kearis Jackson (10) stiff arms LSU Tigers safety Major Burns (28) who grabs his face mask during the second half of the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Bob Andres / Bob Andres for the Atlanta Constitution)

Georgia resilience reigns supreme in SEC Championship Game, 50-30 over LSU

ATLANTA -- Georgia looked like the No. 1 team in the nation once again, ruling the SEC Championship Game with a 50-30 win over LSU on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Kirby Smart has said this is not his most talented or consistent team, certainly no match for last year’s record-setting 15-man, five-first-rounder NFL Draft class.

But this 2022 version of UGA football proved once again it is Smart’s most resilient, and now it is on track to become his most accomplished by one-upping the 2021 national championship group with an SEC title.

“We really haven’t had consistency in performance, maybe not as much as the team the year before has had,” Smart said in the days leading up to the game.

“But what they have had is resiliency, competitiveness, pridefulness, and the response mechanism has been pretty positive.”

By halftime, Georgia (13-0) had set a school SEC title game record for most points scored and a championship game record for longest play (96) while charging out to a 35-10 lead.

Brian Kelly’s Fighting Tigers (10-3) had shown some resolve of their own this season in finding a way into the SEC Championship Game.

But whatever voodoo Kelly had discovered in his first season leading the Bayou Bengals appeared used up or canceled out by the positive karma due to Bulldogs’ fans in this house of previous postseason heartbreaks.

A partisan crowd of 74,810 — some 60,000 of them clad in red and black — watched Georgia open with a 21-7 lead even though LSU controlled the early action.

The scoreboard said one thing, but the stat sheet showed the Tigers out-gaining UGA 158-99 yards while possessing the ball 11 minutes, 10 seconds, to 4:07.

It didn’t appear to be LSU’s day, and Smart’s Bulldogs made sure things stayed that way by shifting into an uptempo mode and riding the momentum.

By halftime, the scoreboard leaned heavily toward Georgia, and the Bulldogs had totaled 281 yards of offense to LSU’s 208.

“Momentum’s a real thing,” Smart said in the days leading up to the game. “You’re trying to find the thing that makes you more consistent, but sometimes it’s momentum in the flow of things, and when you get things flowing, you play better.”

LSU lost starting QB Jayden Daniels in the first half (ankle), but it didn’t go away easily.

The Tigers scored the first third-quarter TD on a 34-yard pass from back Garrett Nussmeier to Malik Nabers, cutting the lead to 35-17.

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